The Living and the Dead: Into the Woods

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Previously on The Living and the Dead: Nathan’s spooky village is a haunted nightmare town, and the living people aren’t that much better. One of them, Jack, was convinced that another guy he loves to bully cursed the harvest and tried to drown him as a witch. The other guy was saved, and Jack was banished.

It’s the Nathan Starts Losing It episode! Hooray! I’m surprised it took him this long—you can’t expect even the most rational and centred person not to start cracking up when they’ve been hearing voices, seeing things, and dealing with all the bizarre nonsense going on around Shepzoy.

And on that note: Nathan’s turned to the power of Ouija in an attempt to contact Clarity (whose name is starting to seem kind of like a cruel joke, no?). He gets no answers with that, but after he leaves the room, the word ‘daddy’ appears on a mirror.

Hey, guess who’s back? Jack, our favourite local witch hunter! Although he told Gideon he would be off to London (which seems an odd choice for someone who’s spent his whole life as a farmhand), he only went as far as the local forest. He’s been poaching and living rough and taking breaks to destroy Shepzoy’s grain wagons and assault the local schoolmistress, Martha. (It’s worth noting that Martha dresses in head-to-toe scarlet red, and I find it hard to believe that people as suspicious and backward as these folk are meant to be would be ok with their children’s schoolteacher presenting herself that way. But of course it’s just to show us that SHE’S DIFFERENT. SO DIFFERENT. GOT THAT?)

So, while she’s out wandering in the woods, Jack assaults her, and she stumbles back towards Shepzoy House in a fugue so deep everyone immediately thinks, ‘Ooooh, rape, right?’ But no, there was (thankfully) no rape here. She can’t seem to remember much about what happened at all, so in order to jog her memory, Nathan takes her back to the scene of her trauma while Charlotte deals with morning sickness and goes to borrow some grain wagons from their neighbour, Juan Borgia (ok, his name is William Payne and he seems like a perfectly nice chap. Also, he has alpacas, because why not?)

In the woods, Martha remembers that she was searching for her friend, Alice, who had run off to marry Jack. They begin looking for Alice, and finally spot her, but she flees. Martha suddenly decides she can’t go any further and since being in the woods upsets her so much, Nathan sends her back to the house while he continues the search. She leaves, and he looks and finds Alice…dead. Someone apparently rammed her head into a nearby tree.

He bundles her over his shoulder and takes her back to Shepzoy, where he finally gets to meet Payne, who apparently just moved into the neighbourhood. Payne immediately agrees to gather some men together and search the woods for Jack while Nathan conducts a thorough examination of the corpse.

His examination reveals that Alice has been dead since that morning, which makes it impossible for him and Martha to have seen her running around in the woods when they did. He dashes up to the room where Martha’s been stashed, but she’s started seeing visions of Alice and, panicked, tells Nathan she never saw anything in the woods and has no idea what he’s talking about. Poor Nathan. Now he’s really going to feel crazy.

Charlotte, sick, pregnant, and stressed out about the farm, simply cannot deal with Nathan’s crazy on top of that, and she tells him so while he gets shouty because he just wants some reassurance that he’s not completely and utterly losing his mind. Except maybe he is. Maybe they all are. Or maybe there truly is something sinister taking up residence in this place, calling up vengeful spirits and causing all the harvest offerings in the church to rot and moulder disgustingly overnight.

Just when he’s perhaps at his most mentally vulnerable (of course), Nathan spots the iPad again, sitting on his desk. There’s some flickering video playing on it, and a woman’s voice seeming to read out the names of all the people who have died so far. He can’t deal. At first light, he goes back to the woods while Gwen locks and loads and stations herself at a window, rifle at the ready, just in case Jack shows up. This girl is DEDICATED. I hope she gets an amazing Christmas bonus.

[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]Gwen is DEDICATED. I hope she gets an amazing Christmas bonus.[/cryout-pullquote]

Nathan flees back to the forest just in time to prevent Payne from shooting Jack, because Nathan wants answers, dammit. But he’s not going to get them from Jack, who has no idea what the hell is going on in this place, he just wanted to grab his girlfriend and get gone. But now Alice is dead, there’s not much point in him going on, is there? He throws himself off a precipice and dies. When Nathan checks out his body, he finds a book on the language of flowers on him, which doesn’t seem like a very Jack-like choice of reading material. Inside is inscribed ‘My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose’, and a message from Martha to Alice.

Back at the house, Charlotte gathers herself and thinks about things, realising that even she’s perhaps been hearing things lately (she heard a baby crying in the house earlier). She goes upstairs to have a word with Martha. She’s come to the conclusion that Martha and Nathan saw something out in the woods (though she’s not prepared to believe they saw a ghost) and wants to know why Martha lied.

And now, Martha goes insane. She tells Charlotte that she was in love with Alice, but Alice chose Jack instead and Martha really didn’t take that well. She took Alice’s laughing at her even less well, and killed her for it. She goes on at length about how she always felt different and was treated accordingly. Then she begins hallucinating that Charlotte is Alice and begins strangling her.

Nathan races back to the house, and arrives just in time to hear his wife shrieking. He dashes upstairs to find Charlotte stumbling out of Martha’s room, Martha laid out on the floor, and Gwen, cool as an Arctic breeze, standing over her, gun trained right at her head. Forget the Christmas bonus, just give this woman the whole damn house now. Gwen = hero.

But…as far as introducing a lesbian character, only to have her turn out to be an insane, jealous murderer who killed a woman because of unrequited love and a certain panic over her sexuality? This is how I feel about that:


Not that I think all LGBT characters should be saints, mind. I just tend to find it problematic when the only one in the whole story is a villain. I feel similarly about Jack Randall in Outlander.

But anyway: Martha is carted off to jail and Charlotte tells Nathan she really has to get out of this place, for the sake of herself and their child. He pretty much stops hearing anything beyond ‘baby’ and gets super excited. Charlotte—not so much. But seriously, Charlotte, you’re totally right—get out of there. This place is toxic in every way.

As the episode closes, we see the lights of a car pull up outside Shepzoy House, and then we’re flung into the present day. iPad lady looks up at the house, then asks a baby in the back if they should go in. I guess the kid agrees, because she grabs its carrier and prepares to head inside the now derelict house. Not the best place to take a small child, lady, cursed or not.

And here we leave it for this week.

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